Port welcomes record number of passengers

An initiative in which the Montreal Port Authority and Tourism Montreal have teamed up with tourism, business and economic development associations and organizations to bring more cruise business to Montreal is sailing full steam ahead. In fact, the partnership’s efforts helped the Port of Montreal attract a record 54,752 passengers in 2012.

In addition to the port authority and Tourism Montreal, participants in the Montreal Cruise Committee are Aéroports de Montréal (Montreal airports), the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, the City of Montreal, the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal, Montreal Casino, the Old Montreal Business Development Corporation and the Old Port of Montreal Corporation. Tourism Quebec supports the committee.

“The players in this fast-growing industry have combined forces within the Montreal Cruise Committee and have made this market a real priority,” said Charles Lapointe, President and CEO of Tourism Montreal.

“The Montreal Cruise Committee allows us to pool our resources and draw on everyone’s expertise in their respective field. It really takes Montreal to another level in the cruise sector,” said Tony Boemi, Vice-President of Growth and Development for the Montreal Port Authority. “While we are trying to attract more cruise lines to the port, the real overall objective is to bring more tourists to Montreal. We are promoting the entire tourism trade.”

The cruise industry brings some $14 million to the local economy annually.

One of the committee’s main objectives is to provide detailed information to the cruise lines so that they have a better understanding of what Montreal can offer as a cruise destination.

“Through the committee we are able to put together a very comprehensive package so that when cruise lines consider coming to Montreal, they know about the whole array of service offerings and opportunities that exist for them,” Mr. Boemi said.

Tourism Montreal said the partnership’s coordinated efforts already have helped enhance the cruise experience for passengers arriving in Montreal.

While fall foliage cruises to Montreal will always be popular, the committee is working to promote summer cruises to the city.

Last summer, the cruise committee hosted 10 senior executives from the cruise industry for an extensive orientation tour of the city.

“We showed them what Montreal has to offer, that Montreal is more than just a fall itinerary – it’s a summer place,” Mr. Boemi said. “We spoke about the summer festivals, about the restaurants. They were here during the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix.

“I can tell you that when they left, they were so very much impressed with what Montreal can offer.”

The cruise committee meets once a month to discuss subjects such as how to further improve facilities and services, provide information, assistance and recommendations to cruise lines, and put together tourism packages.

In addition to its efforts to promote summer cruises, the Montreal Cruise Committee is working to attract niche players and European cruise lines to the city. Medov, a well-known shipping agency based in Genoa, Italy, with offices in Paris, represents the committee in Europe.

“Our partnership with Medov, an agency that is very experienced in the cruise industry, has proven to be very successful,” Mr. Boemi said.

Medov has direct contact with cruise lines that sail to Mediterranean ports. “Having these types of contacts is beneficial to Montreal and, for that matter, the entire cruise industry on the St. Lawrence River,” Mr. Boemi said.

The Port of Montreal is anticipating more passengers, including more international visitors, in the future. “We used to welcome about 30,000 passengers annually,” Mr. Boemi said. “We have now raised the ceiling and should be able attract 49,000 to 55,000 passengers annually, plus whatever more we can develop going forward.

“This is quite a success story, and the cruise committee is a big part of that success.”